Joy In The Coming Of Our Lord

Joy In The Coming Of Our Lord
A Sermon by Rev. David C. Roth

Image result for lords advent

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen
His star in the east and have come to worship Him …. And when they
saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:2,10).
How often have we been in the same position as the wise men, or
maybe the same situation as the shepherds? We are in a position
similar to theirs when we are told of the Lord and the message of His
Word. As He did for the wise men and the shepherds, the Lord has
made Himself known to each of us in different ways, and now it is up to
us to respond. Both the shepherds and the wise men were told in
different ways about the coming of the Lord and then given guidance to
that special place where the Lord chose to be born. Although both were
present to see the newborn Savior, they received the message of the
Lord’s birth in different ways.

Most likely each of us has a favorite story in relation to the Lord’s birth.
We may even ask ourselves whether it was the wise men or the
shepherds who responded in a more favorable way to the
announcement of the Lord’s advent. But this question is not really very
important when we realize that the essential observation is the one that
points to the fact that both the wise men and the shepherds did
respond. They both heeded the Lord’s call, but in different ways, each
according to his own state – different states, yet states which were
acceptable to the Lord. How can we then apply the responses of the
wise men and shepherds to our own lives on this Christmas day? As we
examine the stories of the shepherds and the wise men, the spiritual
sense shows us clearly of their application to our lives.

The first thing, however, that we must understand is the importance of
the Lord’s birth. Without His coming we could not be in freedom to be
regenerated by Him. His coming has redeemed mankind; that is, He put
the hells back where they belonged, put the heavens in order so that
they could be safe from the attack of the hells, and began a new church
where people could love the Lord and their neighbors (see TCR 86). By
His birth and fulfilled life here on earth the Lord is now present with us
fully and powerfully in His Word; we are not left alone. It was this
message involving all this wonderful work to be done by the Lord which
the shepherds were told of, and which the wise men sought to see
fulfilled. As the angel of the Lord proclaimed to the shepherds, “Fear
not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all
people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is
Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11). The message was clearly one to pay
attention to, one to be happy about. A Savior had come, of whose
kingdom there would be no end.

When we consider the call of the shepherds we see a unique response.
The shepherds at this time of the year lived out in the fields with their
sheep day and night, always keeping a watchful eye on their tender
flocks. Perhaps we envision it being cold and dark, with the shepherds
staying close to keep themselves warm. This is illustrative of the type of
world into which the Lord was born – cold from the lack of charity and
love, and dark because of the false understanding in which the world
had engulfed its minds. Yet even in all this cold and darkness there
were a few who possessed an innocence and a willingness to be led
and taught by the Word. We can see this in the story of the shepherds.
A shepherd represents one who teaches the truths and goods of faith. A
good shepherd, that is, one that guards and protects his flock, shows us
a picture of someone who is learning, protecting and storing up goods
and truths. This is a picture of a basically good person, yet one who
believes that life is his own, and that most power is from himself. He has
been working hard to learn the truths of the Lord’s Word; however, he
remains in a state of darkness as to how it all applies to his life, and how
it leads him closer to the Lord and away from self. But with this learning
of truth and innocent willingness the Lord is able to come to us and be
born in our hearts.

The first thing which the appearing angel said to the shepherds was,
“Fear not.” This represents a renewal of life, meaning that the Lord will
create a new heart within us, a heart that acknowledges the Lord as our
Savior and not ourselves. This actually can be a real cause for fear. We
read, “For all who come suddenly from self-life into any spiritual life are
at first afraid, but their life is renewed by the Lord” (AC 80). It can be a
difficult and scary thing to give our life over to the care of the Lord when
we feel so strongly that life is our own and that we have the power
ourselves to conquer evil. When the Lord draws near, the result is
temptation, and if we are good we will fear for the loss of good and truth.
His nearer presence makes it feel as if we are losing what good and
truth we have. But it is when we do follow the Lord, when we listen to
the angel’s good tidings, that He can truly care for us. The manger in
which the shepherds found the Lord represents spiritual nourishment. It
is here in the presence of the Lord that we are nourished and instructed.
The Lord does not lead us to Himself and then starve us; He will fill us
to overflowing. The Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes means first
truths, truths of innocence from the Lord’s Divine Love. When we come
to the Lord He nourishes and instructs us in those things which will
make us ready for His kingdom, a kingdom of innocence, love, and use.
After seeing the Babe, “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising
God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them”
(Luke 2:20). This response by the shepherds signifies a true confession
and worship, which comes when we acknowledge in our hearts that
there is nothing of good in ourselves, and that we can do nothing of
ourselves – and, on the other hand, that all good is from the Lord, and
that the Lord can do all things (see AC 1210). The Heavenly Doctrines
say further of this response, “When man is in this acknowledgment he
puts aside what is his own, which belongs to the love of self, and opens
all things of his mind, and thus gives room for the Divine to flow in with
good and with power” (AC 1210). The shepherds heard the Lord’s call
and followed it. We can be like the shepherds ourselves when we make
the same sort of acknowledgment regarding the power of the Lord. He
will call us in His Word, but if we are looking to ourselves for strength we
will not hear Him. We may celebrate the Lord’s advent, but not with the
same conviction for the Lord as we would if we humbled ourselves and
gave glory to the King of Glory.

From this beautiful picture of innocence as seen in the story of the
shepherds we now turn to a different scenario: one of wisdom and
perseverance – the story of the wise men. The wise men seemed to
have a special quality about them. They knew about the advent of the
Lord because they had a knowledge of the Word and its prophecies. We
read concerning them, “The knowledge of correspondences survived
among a number of the Orientals, even until the Lord’s Advent, as is
evident from the wise men of the east who came to the Lord at His birth”
(SS 23), “and that they knew of His Advent by a star which appeared to
them in the east” (AC 10177).

It is interesting to think of the fact that those who were of the Jewish
faith who had the Old Testament Word and who should have known that
the Lord was to be born had no idea of it. When the wise men came and
asked Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” he
had no answer but called the chief priests and scribes together to help.
We can imagine that perhaps Herod was a bit embarrassed that he, the
king, did not know this, as well as being jealous of this newborn King.
The Word says that ” … he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. ”
Whatever the nature of the response, again it was quite indicative of the
state of the Jewish Church at the time. Not only was their knowledge of
the Word lacking and false but many, like Herod, had an all-out hatred
for the Lord. This is plainly shown in Herod’s plot to kill the infant Lord, a
plot which resulted in the slaying of thousands of innocent children in
Bethlehem.

The Jews at this time, it seems, were not looking for the Lord. And when
they did find out that He had come, there was no room in their hearts
nor their inns to greet Him. Yet, as with the shepherds, we see in the
story of the wise men others who were ready for the Lord. But we
observe a difference in their response to the Lord’s coming, the main
difference being that the wise men were actively seeking out the Lord.
They had seen His star in the east and had come to worship Him. They
traveled a long distance to see the star that had come out of Jacob, the
Scepter that had risen out of Israel, He who was to be born King of the
Jews.

In the spiritual sense, the east represents love, and the star that went
before them signifies knowledge from heaven (see AC 3762, SS 23).
The wise men traveling eastward to the land of the east was
representative of those who in their life are moving toward the good of
faith. This, the Writings teach, is nothing else than charity toward the
neighbor, or a life according to the Lord’s commandments (see AC
3249). In this spiritual picture we can see that it is the knowledges of
good and truth found in the Lord’s Word, represented by the star, which
guide us to a life of charity or love, that is, which guide us to the Lord
Himself. This paints a beautiful picture for each of us. We see that it is
through the learning of the Lord’s truths and commands that we can be
led to Him.

Still, the most beautiful aspect of the wise men’s response to the Lord’s
Advent is seen when they departed from Herod for Bethlehem and the
star reappeared before them. “And behold the star which they had seen
in the east went before them, til it came and stood over where the young
Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding
great joy.” Exceeding great joy! What kind of a feeling did they have? It
must have been an overwhelming feeling of excitement and internal
peace over having embarked upon the last leg of the journey to their
Savior, the star’s reappearing to assure them that the Lord was with
them as they continued their trek. Can we ever have such feelings of
great joy in our religious life? We certainly can, and we must! Talking to
a person who has recently become aware of the wisdom and love found
in the Heavenly Doctrines can certainly emanate exceeding great joy.
Or a newly engaged or married couple show it to a certain degree.
Perhaps we can even relate it to the expression a young child shows on
Christmas morning. However, if we are raised in the New Church, do we
lose this excitement, or never let it show? If we do, how can we regain
this feeling or bring it out so that others can share it? One answer is to
be like the wise men, to seek out the Lord in His Word and then come to
Him when we see the star, that is, the knowledges from heaven
contained in the Word. We may not find the Lord right away. Even the
wise men thought they would find the Lord in Jerusalem, but He wasn’t
there. They could have given up, but they asked others where He could
be found. It is essential to talk to others about our beliefs and our quest
for the Lord. They can add to our understanding and love for the Lord,
and perhaps our picture then becomes clearer for us, which can
eventually lead us to Him. Notice, the star showed itself again until it
came and stood over where the young Child was. It led the wise men
right to the Lord. We need the truths and goods represented by the star
to lead us, and to keep leading us throughout life.

It is important to realize that truth will lead us to the Lord and make us
happy, but the real joy for us in our spiritual lives will be when we come
to the Lord offering gifts to Him, as the wise men did. These gifts of
gold, frankincense, and myrrh were more than just earthly treasures.
They represented testifications of the heart or will, the heart found in a
person that is truly thankful for all that the Lord has done for him, and
shows it by following His Word. These gifts represented things pleasing
to God, because their origin is in love and faith toward Him – the love
represented by gold, and our faith by the frankincense, and by myrrh is
represented our love and faith grounded in things external, which is a
life in obedience and love to the Lord and to our neighbor. These are
the gifts which the Lord is asking us to bear on Christmas day and
beyond. But more importantly to know, they are the gifts which He gives
us and wills to give each of us when we respond to His coming. So on
this Christmas day let us ask ourselves the following question with the
earnest desire to find the answer: “Where is He who has been born King
of the Jews?” Let us then search diligently for His star in the east and
come to worship Him, that is, live a life of charity and faith in Him,
because it is in this kind of a life where we too can share the vision of
the shepherds and the excitement of the wise men. “Where is He who
has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east
and have come to worship Him … And when they saw the star, they
rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Amen.
Lessons: Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12; AE 661

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“The peace that reigns in heaven is like spring on earth, or like the dawn.”

Arcana Coelestia 5662

5 Ways to Experience Divine Love Today

Swedenborg Foundation

Emanuel Swedenborg writes that one of the best ways to grow spiritually is to embrace and embody love in the same way God radiates it. That may seem like a pretty tall order, but throughout his writings, Swedenborg offers some clues about how we can put divine love into practice in our everyday lives.

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1. Do something that’s useful for others

“God dwells in the individual useful things because he dwells in the purpose behind them.” — True Christianity #13

Swedenborg often talks about usefulness, the idea that everything and everyone has a purpose—a unique service that they provide to the world just by being who or what they are. What’s something that you could do today to help others, to move a project forward, to contribute ideas or inspiration, or to help bridge a communication gap?

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2. Forgive someone

“The Lord forgives everyone’s sins. He does not accuse us or keep score.” —Divine Providence #280

Many people are taught to think of God as a wrathful being who punishes people for the smallest transgression. But Swedenborg says that God is pure love, incapable of hating or even being angry at any person, no matter what they’ve done.

It’s human nature to hold grudges, big and small. Are you holding on to anger at someone who was rude to you at a store, or who cut you off in traffic, or makes your daily life difficult in some way? One way to deal with those situations is to think about them as whole people who have goodness inside them, even if they make mistakes or if their actions have consequences they might not have intended. Just as we can forgive ourselves for having a bad day, we can forgive others, too.

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3. Take care of someone

“The sphere of divine love has a special influence on parents. Because of it, they tenderly love their children (who are outside themselves), the want to be one with them, and they want to bless them from themselves. The sphere of divine love affects not only the good but also the evil, and not only people but also animals and birds of every kind.” — True Christianity #44

Parents aren’t the only people with the urge to help others. Is there someone in your life who needs extra help, maybe someone that you already spend a lot of time caring for? Are there little ways that you take care of the people in your life, even if it’s an action as small as cleaning up a mess or helping them to find a lost object?

If we consciously choose to perform caring actions for others out of a sense of love or kindness, Swedenborg tells us that we open ourselves up to even more of that love in the future.

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4. Celebrate differences

“It does seem as though Divinity were not the same in one person as in another, as though it were different in a wise person than in a simple one, for example, or different in an elderly one than in a child. This is just the deceptive way things seem, though. The person may be different, but the Divinity within is not.” — Divine Love and Wisdom #78

Celebrating differences can be a bit of a cliché. It’s easy to forget that it’s human nature to judge others—not just for obvious reasons like race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and so on, but for things as simple as how a person dresses and what kind of music he or she likes.

Every day we’re surrounded by people who are different from us in some way, large or small. Have you ever caught yourself forming preconceived ideas about people who aren’t like you or people you don’t understand? How might those people be expressing the Divinity within themselves?

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5. Be generous

“The love we were created with is a love for our neighbor that makes us as generous with our neighbor as we are with ourselves, and even more so.” —Divine Providence #275

Everyone has something that they can share with others, whether it’s a tangible item like food or money or an intangible like time, experience—or love. It’s easy to share things that we have in abundance, but sometimes it can be a powerfully loving act to share something that you don’t have a lot of. Try it, and see how it feels.

 

If you’d like to hear more about Swedenborg’s take on divine love, you can:

Watch “How to Love,” a recent episode of our weekly webcast Swedenborg and Life.

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Read more:

“Good Love and Good Actions,” an excerpt from Swedenborg’s book True Christianity
“The Lord’s Nature is Love,” an excerpt from Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell
“Usefulness,” an essay from psychologist Wilson van Dusen on how to apply Swedenborg’s concept of being useful.

http://www.swedenborg.com/

CONCERNING THE DIVINE HUMAN OF THE LORD

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

CONCERNING THE DIVINE HUMAN OF THE LORD
THAT IN HEAVEN IT IS EVERYWHERE ACKNOWLEDGED

Selection from
THE SPIRITUAL DIARY

OF
EMANUEL SWEDENBORG

BEING THE RECORD DURING TWENTY YEARS OF HIS SUPERNATURAL EXPERIENCE

     Every man whatever, who has not destroyed his rational mind and no longer receives therein the heavenly influx, and, so, [every man] who does not acknowledge nature as God, has the idea of a human concerning the Divine. This was attested, through much experience, by those in the other life. This Divine Human is nowhere else than in the Lord. Let who pleases think where else the Divine Human could be. The Lord also plainly teaches that He who sees Him sees the Father, and that He is in the Father and the Father in Him and that the Father and He are one. The learned do not know what the soul is; whether it is anything, or whether only a vital [spark], or whether it is the cogitative [function] in a sort of trial [condition]; whether it is there in the body, or elsewhere; when, yet, the soul is the man himself, and wholly in a human form, and the body is adjoined thereto (everywhere according to its functions in a gross world. Hence are the vagaries of the learned. The simple, on the other hand, know that their soul is in the body; consequently, they have no doubts about a life after death).

     Another thing is, that the thoughts and wisdom of the angels are according to the form of heaven, and their affections according to the changes of state there; for, were not the form of heaven perfect, no one could think, still less be wise, because every thought has extension into the societies of another heaven, [these societies] being arranged according to the form of heaven. The form of heaven, in general, relates to man; for it corresponds to each thing with man, as has been shown; [to wit], ((that, first, all things of the whole body, from the highest to the lowest and from the inmost to the outmost, are organic forms, completely [adapted] for the reception of the life of faith from love; and so much as there is of Divine love in man from God, so far are his organs receptions of life, consequently, so far are they living. This is most perfectly the case in the Lord, inasmuch as the Divine Love Itself which was the Esse of His life, formed the body after its likeness, thus to its reception, even to such a degree as that all the [organs] should be forms of Divine Love; and, since the body was made Divine they are the Divine Love. Nothing there is closed, as infinites; but all things are formed according to the idea of an infinite heaven. [It was also shown] that, in the generating of men, there is a likeness of the father, from the conception from the father, thus from the soul, which is the esse of life; this [esse] imparts its own to the body, and makes it a likeness of itself; for the body is the existere of life from the esse of life. Second, that men are not aware that the whole body is the form of its love – which is known in the heavens. Nor do they know how the Lord, although a man and not a spirit, entered through closed doors. Third, that there is not one God when there are three persons. Fourth, that men say that He is omnipresent, even as to the human, as in the Holy Supper. Fifth, they believe that they shall rise as to the body; for they know nothing as to what quality those in the other life are, to wit, in a body and in all things of the body. They do not know what the soul is, and what the body!)) That the Divine is Human in heaven, is a fundamental of wisdom, because of thought; for [that] idea is the primitive one of the universal heaven. Wherefore he who is not in it cannot be in angelic wisdom. Hence, also, it is evident, that the Lord as to the Divine Human is the all of heaven and the all of the wisdom of the angels there.

     It shall be added, in the third place, that the Divine in heaven must have been the Divine Human, before the Coming of the Lord – as is clear from correspondences; wherefore, everything proceeding from the Divine was then in the Human form, so that that form must have been the existere of Infinite Love from the esse of love; and, because it was of love, and the Divine is the Infinite of power, or omnipotence, therefore it also follows, necessarily, that, at length, it so came to pass that it [the Divine] put on the human, actually. These things are written by influx out of heaven, from the wisdom of the angels there.

     By means of the Divine Human of the Lord order was restored even to the ultimate of life, which is the sensual; for successive Divine order perished in ultimates, thus the Divine in the ultimate: this has been restored by the Lord, so that thus the Divine could reach even to that. When I spoke with the angels, I perceived, from their inflowing idea, that there never could have been a Divine creating all things, unless it were a one – not divided into three equal essences, but into three successive essences, which are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these in one Person. It was also perceived that the Divine Itself, which is the first essence, must have been Man in endeavor, or in course of becoming – fieri – whence it was as it were man, thus man reflexively; and that the second essence is Man born, and essentially from the first; and the third essence in successive order, is Man proceeding, which is the whole heaven; and, if it is named, it may be called the Holy Spirit, since it is from the Lord there, and in the Church thence. It may also be confirmed from the fact that the body is the existere of life from the soul, which is the esse of life – as is done among spirits. It may be confirmed from the creed of Athanasius. Those from the Christian world who, from principles taken up and confirmed in the world, deny the Lord, have scarcely any life; they are completely silly.

http://lastchurch.blogspot.ca/

(Emanuel Swedenborg’s Spiritual Diary 4844 – 4847)


Mike Cates   PO Box 292984   Lewisville, TX  75029  Article Site Map  Writing Site Map

Divine Love and Wisdom

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

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The middle, the core, the essence of God is love. This divine love is the transcendent “stuff” that drives, creates, and sustains everything – all things that exist on all planes of existence.

Love wants to work, to flow, to create happiness. How does it do it? Through wisdom. The power of the divine love can be formed and ultimated by operating through divine wisdom.

There’s a marriage between the two – divine love and divine wisdom. Swedenborg refers to them in Latin terms, as the Esse and Existere, roughly translated in English as Essence and Existence.

This conjunction, or marriage, is at the very heart of it all. It is represented in the successive degrees of creation, down to the physical universe, and in life on earth. In our minds, there is love, and there is wisdom. If we unite our good loves to wise thinking, we’re then able to create happiness, too, each in our own unique way.

http://newchristianbiblestudy.org/


Abraham and Isaac (Bible study)

I think that God is loving, so some stories in the Bible make me do a double-take—“God said what?!”

God-said-whatThe book of Genesis tells a story like that. God said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering.” Abraham complies, takes Isaac and binds him on the altar, but at the last second the angel of the Lord intervenes and stops Abraham from killing his son (Genesis 22).

I imagine you might react like me—“Wait… What?!… No way! God would never ask for that—would He?” To be fair, part of the point of the story is that Abraham trusted God enough to do something that seemed like it would destroy everything for which he had worked, hoped and prayed. If God had asked for something less extreme, it wouldn’t have been a test of his faith. At least we can say that God never really intended that Isaac should actually be sacrificed. Still, that leaves us wondering whether God was lying to Abraham, and whether we should have such complete faith in a God who asks us to make such extreme sacrifices.

The Bible says that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). True Christianity tells that, in reality, God cannot turn away from us or even look at us with a frown” (56). Still, we see people—even the innocent—suffering. Since earliest times people have assumed that God punishes us for displeasing Him, but the teachings of the New Church invite us to look more deeply at the Bible.

From earliest times people knew from prophecy that Divine Love would take on a human manifestation in the world, and that this Human would take on our challenges and give everything, even His life, to help us overcome evil. Eventually, though, this belief was twisted into the horrible idea that God could somehow be pleased with sacrificial murder of His Son, or with human sacrifice in general. That terrible belief was widespread in Abraham’s time, and Abraham could not grasp sacrifice in any other terms.

On a literal level, the Bible shows Abraham believing that God really wanted him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Yet elsewhere the Bible states that God did not desire nor command that kind of sacrifice. “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire…burnt offering and sin offering You have not required” (Psalm 40:6).

On a deeper level this story is telling us symbolically what love is like. Genuine love is sacrificial. We should never sacrifice our children though we may sacrifice for our children and help them learn to sacrifice compassionately for others. A mother may go hungry herself to give food to her starving child. A soldier may give his life to protect his country and a fireman may give his life to rescue people from a burning building. A person in love may overlook and forgive a thousand little injuries and failings, because love is compassionate and is willing to suffer in order to protect and provide for loved ones. “Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).


The Rev. John Odhner is an Assistant to the Pastor at the Bryn Athyn Church (www.brynathynchurch.org).

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DAILY INSPIRATION

“You are not made happy by the true things you believe from your faith, but by the goodness which comes from your faith.”

Arcana Coelestia 4984

God – Is there really one?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Creator God
God as Creative Force

Many people sense that there is a deeper aspect of reality. A spiritual force behind the universe.

To my mind this divine level of what is real is pure love and the source of all that explains the meaning of life. It is wisely working away in our hearts and minds. This is the infinite and eternal God of religion, beyond gender, beyond the bounds of space and time, and beyond our full comprehension.

Christ as God

According to much western world religion, this mighty spiritual force is manifest as the Christ within the human soul who inspires our feelings and thoughts with his altruistic love and higher intelligence. A new way of expressing this is as follows. We are an image of Christ’s divine humanity who like us has heart, head and hands – although in his case it is a heart of compassion, a head of wisdom and hands of power.

This is the Christ with whom we can pray and relate to on a personal footing; the divine that flows into our conscience to guide us towards the ethical and moral life. Of ourselves we do not have the ability to inspire and illuminate our lives. But cooperating with the Christ within we can find the divine life as if it were our own.

Intervention of God

Many people can accept that there is no dark side to God and that human suffering and what is evil is caused by some human beings turning away from the values of mutual care and instead focusing exclusively on self-orientation. In my view the Divine is all-loving, all-knowing and whilst present everywhere is beyond time and place. It respects our freedom to decide for ourselves what kind of life we want to lead and so does not intrude to control human affairs.

This deity does not stop suffering, and like loving parents does allow us, the offspring, to learn the lessons of life the hard way whilst at the same time it counter-balances what is bad by providing what is good. Parents continue to provide for and support their children throughout their difficulties and misfortunes. When God does this for all of us, it is called the work of loving providence.

I would say that Divine life flows invisibly into the world to offset disease with healing, temper hate with love, and moderate despair with inspiration. This is done in relation to the smallest detail of life and so despite how things appear, nothing actually happens by chance. If the work of providence were obvious then we would not be free to believe or disbelieve in the divine as the spiritual origin of our lives.

According to this view, God is concerned with long-term goals not short-lived happiness. Only in retrospect can we hope to see the way traumas and suffering has functioned as growth points in our spiritual learning.

Evidence for God

One cannot prove the existence of God which is invisible. But there is evidence to support the Divine nature. Unless God were revealed, humanity would only have a dim awareness that the divine within comes from a higher power creating all that is good. And so I would say that God is manifest as the Christ of history. Also facets of the divine are shown both in the world of nature and in the sacred scriptures of the world’s religions.

Nature is said to be red in tooth and claw. But it also shows a positive side. There is beauty as well as ugliness in plant life, affection as well as cruelty in the animal kingdom, and safety as well as danger on land and sea. What is good in nature symbolically shows the qualities of the divine in our thoughts and feelings. What is bad mirrors the corrupting influence of humanity’s self-orientation.

The Divine is widely acknowledged as revealed in sacred writings of especially inspired individuals. Beneath the various authentic religious traditions and customs there is a common core of spiritual teaching. This is not surprising if they have a common source. What is revealed is what all religions teach i.e. :-

  • Human beings experience two realms of reality, the world of physical objects and the world of spirit, the latter being the realm of consciousness.
  • We have a centre of transcendent awareness and are able to relate intimately to the divine spark, which is the foundation of all reality.
  • Realising our spiritual nature is the highest goal and greatest good of human existence.

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-LacyAuthor of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

 

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th July 2010CategoriesMeaning of life, ReligionTags, ,, , , , ,, , , , , ,, , ,  Leave a comment

Infinity and Eternity

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

This is single light soap bubble photograph taken under macro photography with Canon 6D and Tokina 100 f/2.8 Macro lens.

The word “finite” means that something has limits or boundaries. It comes from the same root word as finish, as in the finish line in a race. When something is finite it means that if you go on far enough, you will come to an end. If there is no end, then it’s not finite; it’s “infinite”.

Similarly, The word “eternal” means unbounded by time.

We can almost, but not quite, imagine something that is infinite and eternal. To think of something that is really really big, or that takes a really long time, isn’t quite accurate, because we really need to think of something that transcends physical size and duration. But it’s at least a start, in stretching our minds to consider what the nature of God could be.

Here we have a physical universe. It must have come from something. Plus, we have these glimpses that there are spiritual realities, too. Mathematics suggests that there are more “dimensions” needed to help make sense of the physical world. These things are at least suggestive that God exists.

In New Christian theology, there is an infinite, eternal God. He is Divine Love, which is the wellspring of everything, and Divine Wisdom, which gives form to that love. He is unbounded by space or time.

That conception might make God seem distant and impersonal, but logically, that doesn’t need to be the case. An infinite God is “big enough”, capable enough to be both creating and sustaining the universe AND flowing into each one of us in ways attuned to our ability to receive his influx. A God who has the perspective of eternity also has the ability within that to operate in our lives, in our time, even if we can’t perceive it.

These concepts are at the limits of many kinds of thought – science, philosophy, mathematics, and religion. There IS an underlying harmony of those disciplines, but it’s hard to see sometimes, particularly because we can be blocked by preconceptions and because we’re operating with finite minds, wrestling with things that we can only really see appearances of. (References: True Christian Religion 27

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